Operation Camargue

Operation Camargue was a large military operation carried out by the French Far East Expeditionary Corps and the Vietnamese National Army against the China-backed Viet Minh forces during the French Indochina War. It took place in central Vietnam, Indochina, between July 28 and August 10, 1953. Operation Camargue was designed and launched by General Henri Navarre. Its objective was to rid the critical Road One, and the area around it, of the clandestine guerrilla units of the communist Viet Minh which had been harrassing and ambushing French troops for a long time. A French armored regiment, airborne units and amphibious troops, which landed on the coast of central Annam, took part in this operation.

Operation Camargue was initiated on the early morning of July 28, 1953, when the first amphibious units landed on the beaches of Annam Province, central Vietnam, and reached the first objectives, an inland canal, without major incident. A secondary phase of mopping-up operations began in a group of small villages where French armored forces suffered a series of ambushes. Reinforced by paratroopers, the French and their Vietnamese allies tightened a net around the defending Viet Minh, but unexpected delays in the movement of French forces left gaps through which most of the Viet Minh guerillas, and many of the arms caches the operation was expected to seize, escaped. For the French, this validated the claim that it was impossible to operate tight ensnaring operations in Vietnam’s jungle, due to the slow movement of their troops, and a foreknowledge by the enemy, which was difficult to prevent. From then on, the French focused on creating strong fortified positions, against which Viet Minh General Giap could pit his forces, culminating in Operation Castor and the battle of Dien Bien Phu.

Operation Camargue ended in August 1953, when the French forces withdrew from Annam. It had not been a successful campaign, for they could not annihilate the Viet Minh units and capture both the expected number of prisoners and arm caches. Once the French had left, Viet Minh Regiment 95 re-infiltrated Road One and resumed ambushes of French convoys, retrieving weapons caches missed by the French forces. Regiment 95 occupied the area for the remainder of the First Indochina War and were still operating there as late as 1962 against the South Vietnamese Army during the Second Indochina, or Vietnam War.

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Thor is Carlos Benito Camacho, the manager and writer of this blog.